Julie C. Dao
November 6th 2018
Received from publisher.
I’ve said it before, and I should probably say it again fantasy fiction is typically not my cup of tea. That behind said, I occasionally enjoy a magical fairy tale retelling. Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix is a Snow White retelling with an Asian cast and setting. As it is the second book and a companion novel to Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix takes place 15 years after the events of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns. The heroine this time is Jade, who is the true heir to the Feng Lu. As a protagonist, I found Jade to be likeable and it was not at all difficult to root for her and her comrades. I also liked that despite being the heroine of the book, the individuals that chose to accompany Jade’s on her journey were also fleshed out with their own motivations and backstories. However, as a result of this I also felt that we barely scratched the surface of who Jade truly was as there was not much time spent with her. Moreover, I also would have liked to have seen more of Jade and her comrades working together and not having them be separated.
On the other hand, what I loved about Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix was how the story was set in the world of Chinese mythology. Dao’s prose is exquisite and her descriptions of the setting and the various magical items such as the cloak gifted to Jade were incredibly lush, that I felt like I was actually transported into the world of the book. Furthermore, I appreciated how the third person omniscient narration of the book gave the story a Chinese folklore kind of feel. What I wasn’t too fond of was how the ending felt a bit rushed, the final battle happened so quickly and in such an intense manner that it gave me whiplash reading those scenes.
If you love the diverse representation in the fantasy, YA genre, then Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix may be the book for you. I went into it without reading Forest of a Thousand Lanterns and was still able to enjoy the book. A heartwarming story about the strength and power of love particularly familial love, this one surprisingly lived up to most of the wonderful praise its received.
Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.